As a surprise bonus to the Consequential Lyrics series, I put up an episode devoted to personal significance of Roxette's lyricism on Cassettes & Chocolate Milk's Facebook. However, this bonus has somewhat "blown up" within that Roxette community, with a feature on Roxetteblog.com and links from Per Gessle himself, on both his personal Twitter and Roxette's Official Facebook - resulting in 3,000+ likes!
Out of fairness to the international Roxette fans who speak English as a second language, I've decided to post the script to this episode so international fans can follow this bonus episode more easily. Better have Google Translate at the ready, I say...
Click here to download the Roxette Episode of Consequential Lyrics.
What I'm Actually Saying:
It's been a little while since I've offered up a bonus treat for you supporters of Cassettes & Chocolate Milk so I figured that I'd make you a bonus episode of the Consequential Lyrics series.
Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Consequential Lyrics, it is a project which seeks to explore the stories we attach to lyrics that sting us with their relevance. I've put together six shows focusing on the lyrical significance derived from six of my favourite artists but I also want to encourage you, my lovely listeners to submit a voice recording of you talking about your own Consequential Lyric for the final fan episode. For details on how to contribute, head along to cassettesandchocolate.blogspot.com
This episode, being a bonus episode, is a little left of centre in that it looks at the significance derived from the lyricism of Roxette. Now, I can almost hear you cry, "But Elle! Surely there is no real depth or meaning in Roxette lyrics!" Well, that's where you're wrong. If you'll come with me for these next couple of songs, you'll see that we're not just dealing with innocuous Swedish synthpop here. We're dealing with smashed hearts.
I once wrote that a major theme of Per Gessle's lyricism is this narrative, this idea that "you ruined me, you absolutely ruined me, but I will live in hope that you will love me again some day." Now you know, you'll see this as a constantly recurring theme in his work. Sleeping Single, which featured on their 1988 album, Look Sharp, is so effective in that you get a sense of physicality in that yearning and that Marie's heart and her bed are reserved for that slight possibility that he might change his mind.
Roxette - Sleeping Single
Another song that very effectively conveys this sense of yearning is the b-side to the 1991 single Joyride, Come Back (Before You Leave). It sounds like more of a calculated appeal than anything else, referring to a certain chemistry they still seems to exist. It's quite compelling in that regard, but then that's not even favourite part of the song, I love the first few lines: "Never looked back on a love affair, I never spent minutes on history, it made me sad, it made me so sad..." and then Marie goes on to dwell upon reviving this old time love affair, in such a way that directly contradicts the premise set up in the first few lines of the song, it's just great.
Of course, there's a suggestion in the bridge with Per's vocal that he did come back for a one night thing, but it's still open ended whether he'll leave for good... and whether he'll break her heart again.
Roxette - Come Back (Before You Leave)
In addition to loss and heartbreak, Per has written a number of particularly moving pop songs about struggling with depression and supporting others with depression, too. Songs like Silver Blue and Run to You really convey the importance of support and connection in recovery... and while you might think that having all these songs about depression might be a real downer, it actually comes across as being quite hopeful and empowering.
This demo, I Do Believe was never reworked for any Roxette album as such, but it remains to be one of my favourite Roxette songs. As those who know me know that I love the night life, I appreciate that much of the action takes place in the middle of the night. However, it is this night-time living which means the lonely protagonist is unable reach out and convey what's going on in his heart and his head. Those lines in the chorus, "I do believe when I close my eyes no one can see me..." is really terribly sad in that it reflects this impossible wish not to be perceived and not to be judged.
Roxette - I Do Believe
A song that I always loved, but only appeared on the cassette version of Look Sharp is I Could Never Give You Up. It's a really interesting song in that its meaning has evolved in all the years that I've known it. It was once easy to get distracted by the 80s pop metaphors, following moons and carrying hearts. But for me, it's really a song about loving someone whose heart is lost to another. Again, there's this sadness about it, that this girl is so preoccupied with her own grief that she cannot begin to appreciate the support that is offered to her right now. But then I wonder, is this guy is being friend-zoned?
Roxette - I Could Never Give You Up
While we're still in the realms of demos and rarities, it's difficult to go past Love Spins, a track Per wrote for the Swedish group The Husbands in 1990. It features perhaps my favourite Per Gessle lyrical metaphor, the heart being runover by a runaway train, which is an expression he uses in at least two other Roxette songs. But seriously though, Love Spins deals with various agonies of the heart, silence, doubt and hope. There's never any assurance that he'll ever know what she's doing or indeed, whether she's ever coming back to him. There is no sense of resolution in the song, but that's the interesting thing, because that lack of certainty is what this song is all about.
Roxette - Love Spins
The wonderful thing about the songs of Per is that they don't just deal with the aspects of heartbreak in isolation, they deal with the prospect of a repeated heartbreak when you see THAT person again at a party. In Stockholm. Fading Like a Flower is a truly magnificent song that deals with that eventuality: "Every time I see you I try to hide away, but when we meet it seems I can't let go, everytime you leave the room I feel I'm fading like a flower..."
It's powerful in that it speaks of the physical reaction within Marie, within us all, when we're confronted with a painful episode from our past. There is that possibility that she will get over it in time, but for the moment being she's still haunted by him, unable to contain her grief.
Roxette - Fading Like a Flower
See, what did I tell you? I told you there was depth, I told you there was agony in Roxette! I'm about to go, but if you're inspired to share your Consequential Lyric, I really encourage you to do it cause I'd love to hear your story.
But for now, I'll leave you with a Roxette song that isn't so unbelievably tragic. This is Always Breaking My Heart, a song that Per wrote for Belinda Carlisle in 1996. It's a little bit like the Queen song, It's Late in that it details a dysfunctional partnership that almost borders on the farcical, yet it's framed in such a way that it sounds completely uplifting. So I'm leaving you with that note, the despite the despair that I've highlighted to you, there's still tons of love to be derived from these songs.
Roxette - Always Breaking My Heart